By Shane Brennan

Imagine a 12-day excursion down to Costa Rica where you could find not only beautiful beaches, but also college credit awaiting your arrival.

This is the vision of three University students heading the Entrepreneurial Renewable Energy Project, a new program that stresses the benefits of renewable energy through interactive activities.

Co-Founders Melissa Lee, Mikhail Naumov and Ben Lapidus recently returned from Costa Rica, where they learned about four types of renewable energy. They hope to expand this opportunity to all students.

“It would be a 12-day trip,” said Lapidus, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “The core eight days focuses on learning about four types of renewable energy. The energies we would learn about are wind power, geothermal, hydroelectricity and biomass.”

Students would spend two days focusing on each type of energy, he said.
“We would focus on interactive activities rather than lectures to learn about a certain types of energy on the first day, and the next day, we would go out and do an activity based on that type of energy,” Lapidus said. “For example, for wind power, we would go wind surfing.”

“We’re hoping to have seven different sessions after the pilot and each group would have a maximum of 40 students,” Lapidus said.

Financially speaking, it would be an all-inclusive trip consisting of food and living accommodations and all students would be insured, Lapidus said. Energy companies in Costa Rica are helping to finance the project.

“Another goal of the program is experiencing another culture,” Lee said. “There’s so much to do in the free time; students could go to clubs, go into town and all the different activities that they couldn’t do at Rutgers based on geographic restrictions.”
Naumov, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said no other college offers a program like this one.

“Although it’s not directly correlated with Rutgers, the project would have Rutgers stamp of approval and after speaking with administrators, we have support from Rutgers Deans as well Rutgers career services,” Naumov said.

The group has a variety of written and verbal support from an assortment of University administration, Lapidus said.

Ali Berger, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior, shares the same opinion of many students in regards to the trip.

“It definitely seems like something I’d be interested in,” Berger said. “The program sounds like it could open a lot of doors and could be a lot of fun. You don’t hear about too many opportunities like this.”

Naumov stressed the importance opening up the opportunity for all majors. He pointed out how students in each major could benefit.

“Business students could see the financial development of the different types of energies, engineers could learn about how these ideas are built from the ground up and political policy majors could see the cultural influence,” Naumov said.

The program focuses on forward thinking and extending the traditional route to something more tangible than sitting in lecture halls, Lapidus said.

“It doesn’t make sense to not want to participate,” Lapidus said. “The eco-friendly trend is going to be a major factor in the future and a lot of companies are going to look for students with experience in the field. This is the only program that really offers hands-on experience.”

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